The first half was as poor a 45 minutes of football as any we’d seen since, well, the previous Saturday against Tranmere. The two sides hadn’t had a win between them in fifteen games, a statistic that would have surprised nobody witnessing the succession of misplaced passes and aimless high balls. We did manage to create one chance in the half when Robinson got through on the right and pulled the ball back to Ings. Nelson made a brilliant point blank save but should never have been given the chance to do so. With little of note happening on the field the away fans at least had plenty of time to direct some deserved abuse at Lee Hughes and John Spicer.
It would be nice to give Bradbury some credit for the tactical switch at half time, but in truth we’ve probably got Lee Hughes’ elbow to thank, as a concussed Purches was unable to come out for the second half. Robinson moved to left back and Arter came on for what was to prove easily his best performance since joining the club.
Hughes had two good chances at the start of the half, but the first was cleared of the line and the niggly striker somehow contrived to miss the target from close range with his follow up attempt. Bournemouth wasted an equally good opportunity after some trickery on the right from McDermott culminated in a precise pass to Ings who shot against the keeper’s legs.
Hughes continued to endear himself to the away fans, shoving Arter to the ground after a fair tackle, unaccountably escaping a second yellow card, before somehow contriving to head wide from four yards out.
Fletcher replaced the utterly ineffective Lovell on the hour and may well have had an indirect role in our opening goal as Robinson was left largely unmarked to power in a well delivered Feeney corner. It was a blow that County never looked likely to recover from. Forced to chase the game huge gaps began to appear in midfield which the mobile Arter, McDermott and Ings exploited to the full. A second goal seemed inevitable against demoralised opposition and it came after 77 minutes. Arter picked out Ings in acres of space on the right, he drove into the box and opted to shoot, characteristically straight at the keeper but fortunately with sufficient power that Nelson could only deflect the ball into the net via a post.
Arguably Ings should have squared the ball to Arter for a simple tap in, but he midfielder probably didn’t mind too much as he continued to enjoy picking County apart – perhaps there may be more to his resemblance to Anderton than just the floppy hair and languid gait. He was confident enough to attempt a half volley from 30 yards that forced an excellent flying save from Nelson. McDermott too was putting on a show and was unlucky to find the side netting after a typically mazy run.
For once we had no difficulty hanging on to a lead, although Baudry was brought on for Ings just in case. The Exiles were left to enjoy the sunshine, the pubs we’d missed out on beforehand, and the news of some satisfyingly poor results for our rivals in the afternoon games.
Harry Arter changed the game. A mobile midfielder passing to feet, it will never catch on.
AFCB: Jalal, Smith, Cooper, Pearce, Purches, Feeney, Robinson, Hollands, McDermott, Lovell, Ings
Subs: Thomas, Pugh, Dalla Valle, Arter (for Purches, HT), Fletcher (for Lovell, 63 mins), Baudry (for Ings, 83 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton